Rocky Roads To Love – Nik Novakovic (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

I talk a lot about musicians delivering “effortless” sounding music, of course the reality is that making something sound that natural takes a lot of hard work. But there is certainly something effortless sounding about the way that Nik Novakovic delivers this bluesy gem. It meanders more than drives, it floats more than it grooves, it is restrained and understated, built from only the necessary musical lines and leaving enough space for those breathes between the words, those lingering pauses between the notes, those atmospherics and anticipations, to be able to work their magic to the fullest. 

Understanding the power of such underplaying, how it’s about intuitively knowing which notes to play and, more importantly, which to leave out, is a skilled art, so it comes as no surprise that Nik is no newcomer to the scene having travelled and performed all over Europe and The USA, across any number of scenes and styles. It is such an eduction, such a mingling and meeting of minds, such a broadening of ideas that is that intangible but so important element which hangs above the song, invisible but hard to ignore. You don’t gain such insides by remaining in your comfort zones, musically or geographically. And if travel does indeed broaden the mind it also nourishes the soul, and soul is one thing that Rocky Roads to Love has in no small amount.

This is contemporary blues at its finest, not that fakery that tends to be served up by ex-rhythm guitar players from heavy rock bands trying to convince us they are returning to their first love when they are really writing stilted anthems to the cash till beat whilst the record executives look lovingly on. No, this is the real deal, a passionate journey through the trials and tribulations of love, loss and longing, a personal paean to a universally relatable subject. If blues is going to have a healthy future it is people like Nik Novakovic who are paving the way. Fantastic!

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